Donald Judd’s Fire-Damaged Architecture Office in Marfa to be Restored

by Glasstire October 16, 2022

The Judd Foundation, which preserves Donald Judd’s artistic legacy in Texas and New York, has announced a project to reconstruct the late artist’s Marfa Architecture Office. The office was heavily damaged by a fire that occurred early on the morning of June 4, 2021. As Glasstire reported last year, the building had been under restoration and was nearing completion and reopening at the time of the fire. A recent press release from the Judd Foundation indicates that the reconstruction process “will implement the original restoration plans, which primarily focus on the stabilization of the historic structure and the protection of the works it houses.” The project is scheduled to be completed in spring 2024. 

Structural engineers Silman and SCHAUM/SHIEH, the Houston-based architecture firm leading the restoration process, have worked alongside the Judd Foundation to assess the proper steps toward restoration. According to a report by the Big Bend Sentinel, this six-month assessment followed a lengthy, three-phase remediation that lasted from September 2021 until the end of January 2022. As the remediation wound down, Pat Arnett, principal at Silman, explained that process to the Sentinel:

“The remaining brick structure is largely intact and has been braced to significantly reduce the stress on the historic brick walls. The roof has been replaced by a temporary light-gauge steel bracing structure at the parapet. Portions of the north and south ends of the second floor remain, and temporary bracing is in place to fill in for the missing second floor in the center portion of the building. With the bracing now in place, the remaining structure is safe for future work.”

A photograph of a brick building. The doors and windows are covered in plywood.

The Judd Architecture Office building in October 2022

Now, that work will begin. In a more recent article from the Sentinel, Judd Foundation director of operations Peter Stanley commented, “as far as morale, just getting this project back underway is going to be the biggest boost there.” The fire set back the Foundation’s multi-year Marfa Restoration Plan, which lists the Architecture Office renovation as the first phase in a series of three. Phase Two will include renovations to the Print Building (which houses the Foundation’s offices) and The Block (Judd’s city block-encompassing exhibition space and private residence), as well as a new Archive Building. Phase three will focus on building out Ayala de Chinati, Judd’s most remote property.

An initial part of the plan, according to the Foundation’s website, is to make the Architecture Office available for temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and programming by other local arts groups and community organizations. The building is also slated to contain six works by artist John Chamberlain. 

The 540-square-foot brick building that houses the Architecture Office could recently be seen being supported by temporary steel braces, and with boards cover all its windows and doors. A sign posted on the plywood-clad front entrance explained that once restored, the building would be added to the Judd Foundation’s guided public visits of Judd’s Marfa complex. The following expression of gratitude was also present:

“Judd Foundation is grateful for the efforts of the Marfa Volunteer Fire Department and the Marfa Police Department. We are thankful to our neighbors and the City of Marfa for their continued support.” 

For more information on the Marfa Restoration Plan, check here.

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